When you and your friend have different badges

12 MARCH 2017

If you've done a San Diego Comic-Con badge sale, you know that disappointment is inevitable. It's really rare that you get everything you want - and that your friends and family do too. This holds true for almost everyone, by the way. If you assume that industry pros and top vendors get comped badges for everyone they want, it's just not true. Trying to get badges for the whole family, or a best friend and a significant other, can be a serious struggle.

For attendees, the badge sale structure of buying for 3 people per session often leads to a lopsided situation. Last year I knew a family where the parents and oldest son had a badge, and the younger son didn’t. Yesterday a woman emailed me asking desperately if I could help her get her boyfriend a 4-day badge because she got one, he didn’t, and now he wants her to do only offsites with him on his unbadged days. 

Then there are groups where three people have Preview Night, three people have Sunday, and one person has nothing. This can throw everyone's plans into disarray, especially if some people decide not to go, changing hotel cost share for the others, or if the person who was going to drive you all down from San Jose/borrow an aunt's condo is the one who got nothing. Right now there's still a chance to upgrade badges in Open Reg, but you can bet this imbalance will still exist for some groups after the last sale.

You'll have to resolve this tension however you think best, but here are my thoughts:

- If you’re the one who didn’t get a great badge, you need to be gracious and accept that your friends will have access you won’t. It’s not the end of the world. If there’s a certain panel or signing you’re dying to get to, see if you can borrow their badge for that time. Shake your online tree to find out who else didn't get a Friday/Saturday badge and hang out with them. Once you're at the Con, keep networking and you may find someone who's not using their badge that day because they're doing an event / hungover / need alone time.

- If you’re the one who scored, don’t rub salt in your friends' wounds, and help them try to upgrade in Open Reg. Once the programming comes out, find a morning/afternoon that doesn't appeal and spend it with them on offsites. But don’t make some misguidedly noble gesture of sitting out major portions of Comic-Con because they're sulking over their loss. Lots of couples and friend groups split up anyhow at SDCC, going to different panels and events and finding each other again for dinner. I hate someone tagging along with me in the Exhibit Hall because I’m like a jaguar on the prowl and I don’t want any dead weight. Your unbadged comrades will find plenty to do outside the Con, whether it’s a Nerd HQ panel, Adult Swim carnival, GamerCon, Conan O’Brien, Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast or something else.

- The same applies if you just started dating someone who wasn’t eligible for Returning Reg and you suspect he/she won’t get a great badge – or any - in Open Reg. I've been there; my advice is to still go. You can control your level of SDCC immersion, like limiting your number of panels and finding outside events to do together. But if you’re going to be buried in gaming tournaments, or camping every night for Hall H, it’s probably best to leave them home.

SDCC badge sales are brutal – we all know it. And when it comes to your closest nerd friends, sometimes a vicious lightning strike of destiny separates your Comic-Con fates. Everyone needs to be stoic and accept the hand they get dealt. Once you're there at the Con, there is always a good time to be had, no matter what kind of badge is hanging around your neck.

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